Blackpool 0-3 Bristol Rovers: Ollie Clarke at the double as tired Seasiders slump to second straight league defeat

It was an afternoon to forget for the Seasiders
It was an afternoon to forget for the Seasiders

Tired Blackpool slumped to their second straight league defeat as three second half goals handed Bristol Rovers the three points at Bloomfield Road.

Tired Blackpool slumped to their second straight league defeat as three second half goals handed Bristol Rovers the three points at Bloomfield Road.

There was to be no repeat of Wednesday’s heroic efforts at the Emirates Stadium, where Blackpool pushed Arsenal all the way in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup.

Terry McPhillips’ side, depleted through injuries and suspensions, never really got going and were fortunate not to find themselves behind at the interval.

But it took just three minutes of the second half for Bristol Rovers to edge in front though Ollie Clarke.

A second 13 minutes from time put the game to bed, as defender Tony Craig doubled the visitors’ lead, before Clarke grabbed his second of the game five minutes from time.

McPhillips suggested he would ring the changes after Wednesday’s defeat to Arsenal and that’s exactly what he did, making four in total.

The most notable absentee was goalkeeper Mark Howard, who missed out with a thigh injury which he picked up during the game at the Emirates.

In came Christoffer Mafoumbi for his first league start of the season, while Curtis Tilt returned from suspension to return into the central of defence, replacing the suspended Paudie O’Connor.

Harry Pritchard and Mark Cullen were also handed starts, as Michael Nottingham and Callum Guy dropped down to the bench.

Bristol Rovers, who made two changes to their line-up from their 1-0 defeat at Barnsley, came into the game having won just one of their last seven games.

Prior to kick off, they sat 20th in League One, just above the relegation zone on goal difference.

With Blackpool having only conceded 12 goals in 14 games ahead of today’s game, and just 14 in 16 for Bristol Rovers, this fixture was never likely to be a classic.

That’s exactly how it panned out in the early stages, with the two sides cancelling each other out which resulted in a dire game littered with mistakes and stray passes.

We had to wait 23 minutes for the first shot of the afternoon, which came from Bristol Rovers midfielder Ollie Clarke who volleyed wide from 30 yards out.

This sparked two or three moments of domination from the visitors, who had two huge opportunities to break the deadlock.

The first came to Liam Sercombe, who was denied by a good save by Mafoumbi after the Seasiders had been opened up.

But there was no excuse for their second miss, which came via Tom Lockyer who somehow missed the target from six yards out after being left unmarked from a corner.

The Seasiders responded well, going close with a chance of their own as Mark Cullen hit the outside of the post with a deflected effort after being found by Liam Feeney’s cross.

But Pool were given another huge let off on 35 minutes, and again it came via a corner. This time the unmarked James Clarke was allowed to run across his man before glancing a header wide, with Mafoumbi beaten.

At the other end, Nathan Delfouneso should have broken the deadlock for Blackpool shortly before the interval.

The forward flicked Jordan Thompson’s volley towards goal from the edge of the box but he was unable to force his effort past keeper Jack Bonham.

The half ended with Bristol Rovers full back Michael Kelly flashing a shot just wide from range, which caused Mafoumbi to scramble across his goal.

Just three minutes into the second half, the visitors took the lead. It came after a defensive mix up between Jay Spearing and Ben Heneghan, with both appearing hesitant to clear, allowing Ollie Clarke to nip in and fire past Mafoumbi.

The stand-in keeper did get a hand to the goal but he was unable to stop it from settling in the bottom corner of the net.

The Seasiders came close to a leveller on the hour mark, Delfouneso getting across his man at the near post to send a header over the keeper but just wide of the far post.

McPhillips’ men went close twice in quick succession with 20 minutes remaining, Pritchard seeing a long throw from Michael Nottingham almost reach him in space at the back post only to be denied by a recovering block from Daniel Leadbitter.

From the following corner, Heneghan saw his header cleared away from a crowded goalline.

Despite being a goal down, if anyone was going to score a second goal of the afternoon it always looked like the visitors were the more likely.

And, with 13 minutes remaining, that’s exactly what happened as defender Tony Craig produced a clinical back post volley to put the game beyond the Seasiders.

Five minutes from time, it was 3-0 to the visitors as Ollie Clarke waltzed his way into the box before toe poking past Mafoumbi.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Bola, Spearing, Thompson (Dodoo), Pritchard, Feeney (Nottingham), Delfouneso, Cullen (McLaughlin)

Subs not used: Boney, Taylor, Guy, O'Sullivan

Bristol Rovers: Bonham, Leadbitter, J. Clarke, Lockyer, Craig, Kelly (Martin), O. Clarke, Sercombe, Upson (Sinclair), Nichols, Payne (Jakubiak)

Subs not used: Smith, Lines, Bennett, Rodman

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Attendance: 3,227 (514 Bristol Rovers)